For Immediate Release — August 26, 2003



First Undergraduate Institution in SUNY To Achieve This Honor

GENESEO, N.Y. — Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s best known and most significant honor society, has granted a charter for a new chapter to the faculty members of Phi Beta Kappa at the State University of New York at Geneseo.

Geneseo is one of only eight institutions of higher education across the nation to achieve the honor this year, and the first non-doctoral undergraduate institution within SUNY to earn this distinction.

"The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the oldest and most prestigious honor society in the liberal arts, dating back to 1776," said SUNY Geneseo President Christopher C. Dahl. "With membership in Phi Beta Kappa, Geneseo now takes its place among a select group of 270 of the finest colleges and universities in the nation as guarantors of quality in the liberal arts."

Dahl added that this honor was the fruition of the efforts of more than 25 faculty and staff at the college, who collaboratively pursued authorization to establish a campus chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for several years. Doug Baldwin, associate professor and chair of the computer science department, was chair of the steering committee.

Phi Beta Kappa faculty at Geneseo were informed in 2001 that the college was one of 10 accepted for final consideration during the current three-year membership cycle, and a Phi Beta Kappa visiting team spent time at the campus in 2002, evaluating Geneseo’s students, faculty, campus facilities and academic programs. The application has been under review since that time, and was approved following a vote at the organization’s triennial Phi Beta Kappa Assembly, held in Seattle in mid-August.

This honor is the result of the initiative and dedication of Geneseo faculty and staff, Dahl said, because Phi Beta Kappa chapters are granted to the Phi Beta Kappa members of the faculty and administration of the sheltering institution. These members, often called active or resident members of the chapter, are responsible for conducting chapter business. Each chapter elects its own officers, while the chapter secretary carries the chief responsibility for maintaining records and communicating with the national office.

For more than 200 years, the Phi Beta Kappa Society has pursued its mission of fostering and recognizing excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. The Society’s distinctive emblem, a golden key, is widely recognized as a symbol of academic achievement. Through the time-honored process of granting charters to the institutions that shelter Phi Beta Kappa chapters, the Society reaffirms that mission.

The chapters and their community counterparts, the associations, work with the national office to sustain a variety of programs that honor and champion liberal arts scholarship. These activities, whether local or national, provide support in the form of scholarships, lectureships, book and essay awards, summer institutes for teachers, and funds for visiting scholars. Each year Phi Beta Kappa, with its affiliates, raises and distributes over $1,000,000 to benefit students and scholars through these programs.

Phi Beta Kappa elects over 15,000 new members a year from 262 chapters across the United States.

Phi Beta Kappa has over 50 associations – groups made up of Phi Beta Kappa members – in cities across the U.S. They support the ideals of the Society through academic, social and community-based programs.

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